A Specialist Week of tutoring in Writing for Young People (to include writing for children and young adults).
November 12 –19, 2016
@ Rancho Las Cascadas – www.rancholascascadas.com
Fiction for young people often uses wild places and natural settings in innovative and evocative ways. What better place to explore this powerful combination than in the beautiful and luxurious Rancho Las Cascadas … complete with waterfalls, stunning natural vistas, authentic Mexican villages, and even wonderful local creole horses! How could you not want to write stories?
Join award-winning, bestselling and groundbreaking authors Melvin Burgess and Lucy Christopher in discovering what it takes to write new and original fiction for a younger audience.
Through exercises, workshops, lectures, one-on-one tutorials, fieldwork and “serious play” in this amazing setting, Melvin and Lucy will introduce some of the key components for beginning, or developing work, for a young audience. They will discuss how to find an original voice, how to push boundaries, as well as how basic elements such as character, setting and plot can enliven and deepen a creative piece. Come prepared to experiment, begin or develop new work, and open your mind to this exciting and innovative area of fiction.
This course is suitable for writers both new to the discipline of Writing for Young People, as well as writers who want to work and develop existing work in this field. Depending on the ability, and desires, of the group, Melvin and Lucy may also conduct some teaching and research activities in the field, perhaps even on horseback! This will be a specialist, intense and hugely enjoyable course taught with fun and care and absolutely tailored to the group’s needs.
As well as the writing course itself, guests will be able to enjoy as much horse riding as they wish (and can fit in). There is a lovely pool and hot tub (overlooking the waterfall), and there will be yoga classes on request (of three guests or more). Delicious food, drink and alcohol (including lovingly-prepared cocktails) all come as standard too. Each day there will be several hours put aside for guests to do with as they please – write, ride, swim, walk to a local village, or just relax and be inspired.
COST will be $2175 all-inclusive for seven nights (all group and individual writing tuition, guest lectures, all food and drink and all alcohol, luxury accommodation in a private room, airport transfers, and all horse-riding and yoga)
Email Jenny at the Rancho to book your stay -email@example.com
A typical day could consist of:
8:00 – 9:00 am: Breakfast on the Terrace
9:30 am – 12:30/1:00 pm: Morning Creative Writing Workshop – This could be on character, voice, setting, research, constraints of writing for young people, dialogue etc.
1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch beside the waterfall
2:00 – 7:00 pm: Individual Tutorial Slot with the Creative Writing Tutor/s and/or Free Time for writing stories, riding horses, doing yoga, relaxing by the pool, excursion to a local village, getting inspired etc. Tutor/s may also join in an afternoon ride with the students if time permits
I’m running a full-day workshop in the beautiful Newport Wetlands nature reserve on the 18th June. It will focus on writing setting, and we will use the spectacular reserve for inspiration. This is the nature reserve where I once worked as a field guide, and the reserve that inspired much of my book FLYAWAY.
Details are here, and poster attached.
It would be GRAND to see you there. And possibly the best thing of all – half of the fee goes directly to the RSPB reserve for conservation of its special creatures and habitats.
‘Writing the Wild’ Creative Writing Workshop
Saturday 18 June
10am – 4pm
Price: RSPB members £36 / non members £45
Join award-winning author Lucy Christopher to discover the ways in which writing the wild and using setting can be important and inspiring for fiction. In a fun and interactive day of writing exercises and exploration, Lucy will guide you through the methods she uses to research and develop her novels. No need to come with fiction already written but be prepared to explore, develop and have some serious play in this special, inspiring location!
I came to Rancho Las Cascadas by accident. I had been invited to speak at the Guadalajara International Bookfair and I was looking for somewhere idyllic to spend a few days afterwards. I wanted rejuvenation and a bit of ‘soul-time’. Perhaps a beachside yoga retreat would revive me out of my current writer’s block; perhaps I could, even, return to UK winter with a tan.
Still, I hesitated to book. Maybe that particular ocean in front of that particular yoga retreat wasn’t quite the right inspiration for my novel-in-progress. Perhaps the yoga guests on the hotel’s website didn’t look too friendly? Maybe I could find a yoga retreat where I could ride a horse, too?
I typed many combinations into trusty Google. Horse yoga in Mexico yielded some particularly …ah … interesting results, though none returned as a combined yoga and riding retreat. Certainly, none of the retreats I discovered combined yoga, riding AND creative writing. Nevertheless, one website was persistent. Over and over again, the website for Rancho Las Cascadas begged me to consider it. But this place was all wrong, wasn’t it? It had no rejuvenating ocean waves, no barefoot peaceful yogis, and how would I find time for inspiration if I were gallivanting on horseback all day?
But, hey…the opening photo on their website looked like it was on a beach, sort of. And the guests in their photos looked friendly at least. And there were HORSES. Horses that looked exceedingly gorgeous from their photos no less.
I sent a cautious email to Jenny, the Rancho’s manager. She replied within minutes, almost beaming with smiles through the printed words. It took me about a day to change my plans from the Mexican Riveria to a Mexican Rancho.
I am so glad I did.
Not only did I find perfect rejuvenation and ‘soul-time’ at Rancho Las Cascadas, I found what I’d been searching for – inspiration and, yes, even time to write. Despite riding each day during the six days I was there, and even fitting in two wonderful yoga classes (yes, they DID do yoga and riding at the same place it seemed!), I wrote every day. I returned to the UK with half a story written for children about a wild horse, as well as a novel idea about horses. Now, I wonder where I got that inspiration?
The Rancho really is the perfect place to write – there is sunshine, smiles, peace, the calm of horses, and time to explore. However, best of all, I also returned with a wonderful idea for teaching. It was in the lazy haze after a yoga class that I spoke to Jenny about the possibility of running a Creative Writing Retreat at the Rancho. As always, Jenny was positive and helpful. Why not, she said, that would be fabulous!
And why not, indeed!
So, I’m doing it. And I cannot wait. Because, what really could be better than sunshine, writing books, riding horses and, yes, even a little yoga!
Watch this space for details about the Creative Writing Retreat I plan to hold at the magical Rancho Las Cascadas from November 12 -19, 2016.
If you’re interested, let Jenny know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more info on the Rancho – www.rancholascascadas.com
Welcome to this portion of the UKYA Easter Egg Hunt, brought to you by Lucy Christopher and Sarah Benwell! One very lucky winner will win a huge grand prize of signed books by over thirty YA authors who write and live in the UK. Up for grabs from us, are signed copies of THE KILLING WOODS and THE LAST LEAVES FALLING.
All you have to do is read this blog, count up how many UKYA branded Easter eggs you see in the blog, and follow the link at the end to the next blog. Keep going until you get bac to the blog where you started, and add up how many eggs you’ve seen along the way. Email your answer to: UKYA2015egghunt@gmail.com. A winner will be chosen at random from all correct entries, and contacted by email. This closes at noon (UK time) on Sunday, 5th April, and is open internationally. So get finding those eggs! And some awesome UKYA authors and books along the way. Good luck!
Sooooo, since this is an Eastery extravaganza, we were thinking about chocolate. And books. And this led to the obvious question… If you could exchange chocolate for one UKYA title this Easter, what would it be, and why?
LUCY: Well, this is hard to choose! There are so many amazing titles. However, if I was going to pick JUST ONE to turn to instead of chocolate …. Well, it would have to be a title that would fulfil some of the elements that chocolate fills – it should be comforting, deep, exciting and addictive. Hmmmm. OK, I’m going to be totally old school here and pick Jenny Downham’s extraordinary debut title Before I Die. I’ve read this book several times already and I would still turn to it now instead of picking up that bumper bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. It has a big emotional story that makes me cry and smile, it has memorable characters that I easily fall in love with, and it stays in my mind long after the last page is turned ….. actually, can I please eat chocolate WHILE I read this? I may need it after the emotional rollercoaster this book will put me through when I reread it …. Please?
SARAH: Hahaha, yeah, sure. Can I cheat? I’m going to cheat. I want MORE. I want to hold the Easter bunny hostage until he agrees to let me have SEVERAL books, if I’m giving up chocolate for it. I want Zoe Marriott’s SHADOWS ON THE MOON for it’s world building and language and characterisation and just…everything is exquisite, like the best of chocolates. But I also want Tabitha Suzuma’s FORBIDDEN, for those moments when you need to gorge in the name of catharsis. And to that end, I sort of want to pick Patrick Ness’s A MONSTER CALLS, although to be honest that’d have me reaching for the chocolate!
LUCY: Hey, yeah … those are some great titles! FORBIDDEN, yes! I loved that book! OK, so this also got me thinking about the question of – if a book were a kind of chocolate, what would it be? Immediately, my mind drifted to your amazing debut title, The Last Leaves Falling. I can instantly see the kind of chocolate this book would be. It would obviously have to be a chocolate with a tie to Japan, where this book is set. It would need to be a chocolate that was quite daring, too, and extraordinary. Something both rich and delicate. Something bittersweet. Something complicated and sharp. OK. I’ve got it! Your debut novel HAS to be an expensively exquisite piece of Wasabi Dark Chocolate. It looks gorgeous (have I told you how much I love your cover?), and then, when you bite into it, you are hit with something powerful and strange and yet hugely, addictively, compelling. I love this book, Sarah… can you tell?
SARAH: Excuse me while I read that over and over. And maybe frame it… Huh. So I think THE KILLING WOODS would be…salted caramel. It’s got that luxurious richness of your descriptive settings, that familiarity and comfort, but also something unexpected and exciting, a saltiness that wakes you up andleaves you thirsty for more, desperately turning the pages/ taking another piece. (Um. I may have a little bit of a love affair with both this particular chocolate and this book. When’s the next one out, Lucy? Give me moooooore.) And now I’m hungry. Damn it.
Also! I’d LOVE to hear reader’s thoughts. What could you sub out for chocolate? And what sort of chocolate do you think your favourite books would be
Tell us in the comments!
Count your eggs, and follow the trail…how many more can you find?
I’m thrilled to say I am now on a US Book Tour for my new novel, The Killing Woods.
Here are some of the dates of my events if you want to come along (would love to see you!!)
Tuesday January 21st: Seattle
PUBLIC talk at University Bookstore, Bellevue (with author Sara Larson), from 6.15pm
Wednesday January 22nd / Thursday January 23rd : Seattle
Saturday January 25th / Sunday January 26th: Philadelphia
Sunday January 26th: Haverford, PA
PUBLIC event at Children’s Book World, 7pm (with authors David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell)
Monday January 27th: NYC
PUBLIC event at McNally Jackson, 52 Prince St, NYC, (with authors David Levithan and Gayle Forman)
Saturday February 1st: Hadley, Massachusetts
PUBLIC event at Odyssey Books, 9 College Street, South Hadley
Sunday February 2nd: Rhinebeck, New York
PUBLIC event at Oblong Books, 4pm (with authors Len Vlaho and Margaux Froley). 6422 Montgomery Street, Rhinebeck
I’m also really excited to say that I am writing this from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I am currently a Writer in Residence. I am loving every moment of being here. VCFA run a wonderful MFA programme in Writing for Children and Young Adults and it is very interesting seeing it in action. We are hoping that the university where I work (Bath Spa University) will be able to partner with them in their residency next year. Exciting!
Well, it’s done … finally! The Killing Woods is now well and truly launched into the world. We celebrated this with not one, but TWO launches – the first with Bath Waterstones (where my first two novels were also launched) and the second in Newport Waterstones (complete with an audio visual element!). Both launches included a special performance by the super special band, Quiet Marauder, who worked with me to help complete the novel. Quiet Marauder were also launching their first EP, signed to Bubblewrap Records and with the very same name as my novel! It was a great pleasure to be sharing the stage with them. My friend David Levithan also took a break from his own busy book tour schedule to pop down to the Newport launch (bless!). Great fun, much champagne, and a few woodland moments were had by all.
Have you seen the new Killing Woods Tumblr that my amazing UK PR team have put together….? If not, check it out – it’s here.
There is also a BRILLIANT competition they are running on there at the moment. All you need to do is post a picture of you in some woods, or even just post a picture of some trees near you, in order to be in the running to WIN a signed book proof of my new novel, The Killing Woods. So, go and get down to the woods today…. Come on, I dare ya.
I’ve even put a picture up of me in the woods too … it’s taken in North Woods, Central Park, New York …. which is where I am right now. I’m here doing some work on the STOLEN screenplay, as well as early publicity for the US edition of The Killing Woods (US readers, stay tuned). Must say, I am loving being here.
In the meantime, wishing you happy wanderings through woods near and far. I can’t wait to see your pictures!